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  Reviews by: Edward Gill  

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Acratech ballhead

Review Date: Aug 2, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $275.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Weight, reliability, adjustability, construction, weight, cleaning open ball, did I say weight?
None, nada, zip, but you have to learn your equipment!

Once you get familiar with the design, the freedom of movement is greater than it appears at first. If you put the main tension knob toward or directly away from you and the clamp ring is at a 45, you have freedom of tilt both up and down (about 20 degrees each way) plus you can still drop to 90 degrees left or right depending upon which way you orient the tension knob.. I find this more than enough in most situations. If more freedom is needed - like a gimbal mount, there are two techniques.

1. Leave the panning base loose (like any gimbal mount) and as you tilt up or down the base and clamp will rotate slightly to allow the head to tilt all the way to 90 degrees up and down.

2. If you have a leveling base you can tilt the whole head about 10 to the side - still set up like described above and get at least 45 degrees up and down and still flop to portrait - one side only.

To me this is the best design I have seen. All parts are visible to check for damage or looseness, easy to clean in the field, wont bind with dirt and sand, and extremely light for it's load capacity. Also very reasonably priced (at least compared to the competition).

A little different, which puts some people off, but when you tighten it down and can visually see all the parts are sound and solid put your $ 5000 rig on and shoot with confidence - unlike much of the big name competition and cheap Chinese knock-offs. Gets a solid 10 in my book for design and quality. - Well done Acratech!

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

Review Date: Jul 31, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Optical quality, weight, warranty, versatility, reliability, hood provided.
Focus ring turns, not full time manual focus.

For optics compare DXO performance on SLRgear:

Outperforms Canon 20mm f2.8 @ 17mm (20mm not tested)
Outperforms Canon 24mm f2.8 @ 24mm
Outperforms Canon 28mm F2.8 @ 28mm
Outperforms Canon 35mm F2.0 @ 35mm
Matches Canon 50mm F1.8 @ 50mm
And it's a constant aperature zoom!
How much more do you want out of a $ 350-400 lens?

Color cast - who cares if you're shooting digital? Since this is a reduced image circle lens color cast would only affect APS film shooters so I don't understand issues with color cast when shooting digital - learn to use custome WB if your needs are that critical.

Construction is solid and stable plus with a six year warranty compared to Canon's one year - again what else do you want?
My cheapo Tamron 19-35mm is four years old and still works perfectly - and still under warranty.

Lens caps are superior to most OEM caps. Comes with a lens hood (not a $20 - $40 extra). Works on my 10D and my 40D - Canon EF-S wont - THANKS CANON! Thank you Tamron, Tokina, and Sigma for making reduced image circle lenses that work on my 10D.

No issues with focusing - but - this lens has fairly substantial field curvature at wide-wide settings so that my be throwing some focusing off. Use center focus point on critical element and re-compose if you must use 17mm at 2.8-4.0. Otherwise stop down for depth of field/focus.

For value, this is a 10+. Not a perfect lens because of field curvature and old motor style (slightly slower focusing than USM lenses). If you get a bad one - you have six years to return for repair, Tamron is vey responsive on their rebates - unlike you know who, and I understand on repair also - but I have never had to have one returned or repaired.